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This Single Fact About A Local Election Will Hurt Your Brain

One person's vote = half a business vote?

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In Sydney, Australia's largest city, ratepayers will go to the polls on Saturday in a local council election and for the first time people will have one vote while businesses get to cast ... two votes!

It's a baffling situation that has left people confused as to why a Sydney business would have twice the voting power of an individual. To understand why the city would do it, you have to meet the current lord mayor Clover Moore.

Moore is an independent who's going for her fourth election win in a row. The state Liberal government, led by premier Mike Baird (pictured), is not a big fan of hers, and in a bid to weaken her grip on power it changed the electoral rules in 2014.

Dan Himbrechts / AAPIMAGE

"There is a long tradition of Liberals trying to bring in more business influence on the councils," said polling expert Ben Raue. "But [this] voting reform ... was a deliberate move to get Clover."

The new system, which is modelled on Melbourne's, also makes it ~compulsory~ for businesses to vote. According to Raue, as many as 23,000 businesses are expected to vote at this election.

"In an election where 120,000 people cast their vote, it's a significant change."

Many people are also wondering why businesses get two votes, like why not three, or four, or 10?

"It was completely arbitrary. They said, 'well households often have two voters, so we'll give businesses two votes'," said Raue.

Mayor Clover Moore told BuzzFeed News it is a fundamentally anti-democratic move to "take control of the city".

"The Liberal party might like to think that manipulating how people can vote will threaten my support as lord mayor but I have every confidence in my relationship with city businesses and the work we've done to support them in the last 10 years," she said.

"I'm confident the community will see this for what it is: an attempt to manipulate democracy and take control of the city."

The whole "business get two votes" situation has been blowing the minds of experts for a while now. The ABC's election analyst Antony Green once said "whoever’s putting this up is trying to rort the result".

Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Mark Di Stefano at mark.distefano@buzzfeed.com.

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